There was no detail too small for 5-year-old Owen Zahn.
As he stood there, fixated on the mechanical reptile towering above him, Owen picked out the blood on its teeth and a cut on a smaller dinosaur’s neck that lay beneath it, fake blood spouting from the wound.
Owen had all the evidence he needed. He shrugged. “The T. rex killed the dinosaur,” he said. It was obvious.
By that point Saturday, Owen, who starts first grade in the fall, was on his second trip to MetraPark for Jurassic Quest. He was practically an expert.
He had seen the animatronic T. rex; the dozens of similar lifelike dinosaurs, including three you could ride; the dinosaur inflatables; the science and craft stations, the fossil dig station and even a velociraptor that traipsed around on foot.
But he was still fascinated.
“It’s very awesome ... I really like its massive head and sharp teeth,” he said, referring to the T. rex, but he admitted the Jurassic realism was “kind of scary.”
Owen’s mom, Sari Zahn, who decided to take the family after hearing a commercial on the radio, said he eats up anything involving dinosaurs.
“It’s fun to see them having fun and learning” at the same time, she said.
The Zahns were among thousands of others who flocked to MetraPark this Saturday for the inaugural Billings stop of Jurassic Quest, an interactive, educational event about dinosaurs.
The traveling exhibit — a family-run business out of Houston — only started in September, with its first show in Sacramento.
Danielle Arnold, the owner’s daughter, said their family has been traveling, dinosaurs in tow, ever since. In all, five family members and a dalmatian named Reggie run the show.
The idea for the business came from her father, Dan Arnold, who she said is a dinosaur fanatic.
Dan didn’t deny it. He said bringing the idea to life was a culmination of a lot of work and passion. He even enlisted paleontologists to ensure the dinosaurs were realistic.
The business, which he referred to as a “family project,” has been a hit, he said.
Dan said they plan on expanding in the coming weeks with more dinosaurs. When they come back to Billings next year, which he said they plan to, the exhibit might have to spill outdoors.
Although many of the dinosaurs were stationary, one dinosaur wandered around on foot, crowds forming wherever it went to take pictures and touch its scales.
“It actually feels real,” Jake Lambrecht, of Laurel, said, curiosity getting the better of him.
Lambrecht brought his wife, son-in-law, daughter and grandchildren, who ranged from 1 to 11 years old.
When asked if he thought the meandering reptile was realistic, his grandson Dhiren Bhattacharya, of Mountain View, Calif., wasn't so convinced.
He saw the dinosaur’s tennis shoes.